The Water Gardens of Cowtown
Fort Worth: most known for cattle, cowboys, and the stockyards, also has one of the coolest parks I’ve seen – the Water Gardens located in the downtown area. I had heard about this place since I was in elementary school, but never got around to checking it out. I decided to change that last Wednesday.
Being in the lazy mode that I was during Spring Break, the last thing I wanted to do was fight highway traffic on the one hour drive to get there. I elected to take public transportation instead- something I have been doing much more often recently.
To get to Cowtown, I first took the Green Line light rail train from the Downtown Farmers Branch station to Victory Station, which is located right next to the American Airlines Center. From Victory, I hopped on the Trinity Railway Express(TRE) train, which runs between Dallas and Fort Worth with numerous stops in between. The TRE has two fare zones: east and west with the DFW Airport station being the fare boundary. If you are riding anywhere west of the big airport, that requires a regional ticket, while a local DART pass is sufficient for the portion from Victory to DFW.
The automated DART ticket vending machine was pretty vague when it came to student regional fares, and as a result, I didn’t purchase my ticket while at Farmers Branch. When I arrived at Victory, the TRE train was already at the station and I hopped right on. I disembarked at the downtown Irving station(one stop away from needing a regional fare), with the plan to buy my ticket and get right back on. Didn’t work out quite as planned. The train only stops at each station for around a minute, which is not enough time to walk to the vending machine and buy your fare. As a result, the train pulled away leaving me in the heart of Irving. Checked the timetable which said the next train wouldn’t arrive until one hour later. Great. I purchased my fare and then walked to the McDonald’s right across the street to chill and grab some food. Before I knew it, one hour had elapsed and I was back on the TRE. Passed by a few more stations, and then finally arrived at the western terminus: the Fort Worth T&P Station. From there, the Water Gardens were right across the street.
Built in 1974, the Water Gardens have four distinct areas: the aerated water pool, the quiet water pool, the active water pool, and the mountain. According to the sign there, each zone conveys a different message. I checked out the mountain area first.
The mountain area features tall cement “mountain” blocks that simulate being in the midst of a mountain range, all while providing a barrier between the garden’s peacefulness and the outside city traffic. At first, I didn’t quite understand how it looked like a mountain range, but upon stepping back and looking at all the blocks it did sort of resemble one.
The next zone was where most people think of when referencing the Water Gardens: the active water pool. This whole area is sunken into the ground, with numerous waterfalls pouring water down into the base. There are steps that people can walk down to get to the base.
The individual steps are separated from each other about 5 inches. Bountiful amounts of people were walking down and enjoying this unique setup.
As I arrived at the base, the sight and sound of the water rushing by was rather relaxing. Some folks stopped to sit on a concrete block to take everything in, while others paused to take a selfie.
If you have a fear of falling in and drowning, chances are you will turn out just fine. In 2004, a girl fell in while walking around the base. Herself and three others that jumped in to save her all drowned. As a result, the park underwent a significant overhaul to make it much safer. While the pool at the base was around twelve feet deep then, after the redesign it is just two feet. That being said, common sense safety precautions should definitely still be observed, and signs everywhere bring light to that. A police officer was also seen patrolling around the complex. No swimming or horseplay is allowed here!
The next two zones, while not as exciting as the active water pool, are still notable in their own light. The aerated water pool features many sprinklers spraying a fine mist of water in the middle of a fountain, and it gives the impression that one is about to get sprayed with water. In fact, it is simply an optical illusion.
The last section is the quiet pool. As I walked in, I noticed that the big concrete blocks making up the perimeter are acting as a waterfall of sorts, with water flowing straight down from the top. Also present were some tall trees providing for shade- the kind that is typically seen in East Texas. In the middle is an almost stagnant pool of water.
Although the active water pool seemed to be the most popular, each zone had a constant stream of people coming and going. In addition, there were a few photo shoots going on. I’m sure all these distinct areas, especially the quiet pool would make a great backdrop. In the middle of all these zones was an open area that many parents (and kids) used as a hangout spot, and it sure provides for a nice place to cool off in those hot Texas summers.
Since I had already seen the majority of downtown Fort Worth from previous trips, from there I boarded the TRE back home. Even with the delay on my way here, it was still a nice trip to see something that isn’t found in Dallas, or anywhere I’ve visited for that matter. If you are looking for a cool attraction where water is utilized as a form of art, this is for sure the place to visit!